Learning To Say “No”

I’m not talking about saying “NO!” to my kids. I know some moms are very anti N-word. But not me. I say no at least 300 times a day. It’s a regular part of my conversational interactions with my children. I say “no” more than I say yes, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

That’s not where I’m going with this though. I’m talking about saying “no” in terms of not spreading yourself too thin. Allowing yourself (as a mom, as a person who needs self-care) to take a day off, to skip the laundry for today, to cancel on your dinner plans and stay home with a book.

Moms these days have so much pressure to be perfect, to be super mom. We have to make sure our kids don’t get too much screen time, but get enough that they aren’t the only kids at school who don’t know what Fortnite is. We can’t yell or scream or swear. We have to use our words carefully as to not bruise their fragile egos. We need to be their advocate, but make sure we aren’t helicoptering over them… they need their independence too, but not too much. We need to keep them away from processed foods and GMO’s and ensure they are only supplied gluten-free, sugar-free, non-GMO, fresh, clean, and homemade meals shaped like their favorite Disney characters. We have to make sure everything is fair, because (as we all know) life is always fair and simple participation in life is always awarded. Our kids must be the best in everything or it’s a direct reflection of us as parents. Hell, you can’t even apply sunscreen on your kids nowadays without someone chastising you for using an aerosol spray can of SPF that causes cancer. DEET? That’s absurd. No one uses that. It’s homemade essential oil concoctions to repel bugs in this century. Get your shit together, bad mom.

That is just the pressure we women have with KIDS! When you add in the pressure of just being a woman it’s seriously overwhelming. If you show up to school drop off looking like you just woke up, sure, some moms might get it, but some will judge the fuck out of you. Show up late for pickup? Clearly there is something wrong with you! Don’t make it to the gym on a regular basis? Stop at McDonald’s on the way home from running to school to sports to clubs and home for homework? You must not care enough about your family. What’s wrong with you?

You’re not part of the PTA, PTSA, PTSO and the NRA? Well then… you’re not a real “mom” at all!

In this world of perfection, it’s hard to take time forĀ  yourself. It’s even harder to FIND time for yourself. I have found that the only time I get any time to breathe, think, focus, or plan for the upcoming days is at night when my kids are asleep. Which is great, if you can live off no sleep. I can’t.

When my marriage started to come to an end and I had to take a look at my life and my family on a much deeper level, I realized, I was doing WAY too much. I was falling apart at the seams trying to keep up with sports, school and after-school activities, dinner and PTA meetings, cub scouts and parties and the list. is. ENDLESS. When things got really bad I was having such anxiety I couldn’t even fall asleep at night even though I was walking around like the living dead because I was so damn tired. And when I finally did fall asleep I couldn’t get my ass out of bed in the morning without hitting the snooze fifteen times (or more).

It might be an unpopular opinion I have, but I am a firm believer after years of spreading myself so thin I can’t breathe, that sometimes… I just have to say no. If I am not up for a night out, I will say so. And I won’t feel bad about it anymore. If I don’t want to drag my kids to a party where I know they (and I) are going to take days to recover from…. I make a call, send a text, and apologize, and STAY HOME. If I have to skip making dinner and order in just to save my sanity, I do it. If I have to send my kids to school with a lunchable instead of a homemade sandwich in a bento box with carefully selected fresh fruit and vegetable sides, then so be it. I overslept so I’ll stop at 7-11 on the way to school, and I might even throw in some ho-ho’s (GASP!).

In most cases when speaking about anxiety and depression, women are TWICE as likely to be affected than men. I think that speaks volumes to the amount of pressure we are under as women, as moms, and as wives. It’s a hard thing to admit when you are in over your head. It’s almost like you’re admitting defeat. Admitting you can’t handle the stress. But, in reality, if you can be someone who knows their body, knows their mind and their soul so well that they know when enough is enough and it’s time to slow down. To do what it takes, for your own well-being, and ultimately for your overall health so you can actually take some time to ENJOY life and have FUN with your family, with the strength to not give a DAMN about what anyone thinks about it. Well, that makes you the real super hero.

Photo Credit: National Institute Of Mental Health

**did you know? According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Generalized Anxiety Disorder affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment.

Panic Disorder affects 6 million adults, or 2.7% of the U.S. population.

Social Anxiety Disorder affects 15 million adults, or 6.8% of the U.S. population.
SAD typically begins around age 13. According to a 2007 ADAA survey, 36% of people with social anxiety disorder report experiencing symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help.

Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15 to 44.3.
MDD affects more than 16.1 million American adults, or about 6.7%of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year.
While major depressive disorder can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32.5 years old.
More prevalent in women than in men”

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